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The Elliotte Sisters

Text: Ellen K. Elliotte (1836 - 1924) and Lizzie F. Elliotte (1834 - 1910)

On Wednesday, August 1, 1855, Dollar Bank had been open for business less than two weeks. That day, Ellen K. (Eleanor Katherine) Elliotte, the bank's first independent female depositor, opened her account with money she was earning as a saleswoman at a retail store in downtown Pittsburgh. The 19-year-old immigrant from Ireland had plans for herself. When asked her occupation, she replied, "mercantile business."

Every week, Ellen Elliotte dutifully added $1 to her savings account. In June 1857, her sister Lizzie Fowler Elliotte opened a savings account with Dollar Bank. By 1865, the sisters were listed in the city directory as living at the St. Clair Hotel and ran their own shop: L.F. and E.K. Elliotte, trimming store, at 43 St. Clair.

Ten years later, by the 1870s, they advertised their business as selling "ladies and infants wear." The city directory shows Lizzie having her own residence on Union Avenue in Allegheny (now Pittsburgh's North Side). Later she moved to Keating Avenue in West View. Lizzie Elliotte never married and died in 1910, leaving an estate valued at $63,000, an exceptional sum for a female business entrepreneur in that era. She left the bulk of her estate to her sisters and their children, an extended family which, by 1910, stretched from Ireland to Pittsburgh to California.

In 1869, Ellen Elliotte married Thomas C. Jenkins, a successful wholesale grocer, whose legacy in Pittsburgh was the Jenkins Arcade. Ellen Jenkins raised two sons and remained active in business and real estate dealings throughout her life. She died in 1924 at her home, 919 College Street in Shadyside. Her great-granddaughter, Eleanor Katherine Jenkins, was the wife of Charles A. McFeely, Jr., who was first cousin once removed of children's television host Fred Rogers.

Account signature of Ellen K. Elliotte and Lizzie F. Elliotte